It is worth the investment – a pro will make you look like a pro.
Ask to see their portfolio. Is their style a match with yours. Do they have an “eye”? Did they capture the essence of their subjects? Do you like their stuff?
Ask for references. Check them! Ask how the shoots went and what kind of response they have been getting from the images.
Do they have experience in the music industry? Just because someone is a good photographer doesn’t necessarily mean that they can take a great band shot.
Ask them for a price – and a price list for all those “extras.”
Don’t be afraid to try bartering for photos (perhaps they may need a band for their wedding this summer). Ask how to get the cost down if it is too high. Even if you barter, pay them something.
Ask them how they run their shoot.
Ask how the photos will be delivered to you – prints or on a CD. You will need both. Will you get all photos shot, or just the ones you pick out from contact sheets?
Ask how long it will take for you to get the images after the shoot. Be sure to tell them your schedule. If you need the pictures in a week and they are backed up for two weeks, you need to find someone else.
Give them a band bio and any other information they might find helpful to get a sense of you and your personality.
Hold a photography planning meeting with your band. Don’t wait until the day of the shoot to talk about what everyone thinks the photo should be like. This will focus you, as well as save you time and money.
Try to have a preshoot meeting with the photographer to go over ideas, concepts and locations.
Finding a photographer or artist: The local grapevine or word-of-mouth is usually the best method. Ask around and contact other bands or their management. Local colleges or universities may also be a good source for finding an inexpensive photographer, although with less experience.
Experience with musicians?
When is the money due?
What’s included for that price: how many hours, how many poses, how many locations, expenses.
image format (digital, print, film) and how delivered (CD, prints, both)
Get it all in writing before you plunk down any $$.
If you hire a photographer or artist, get an unlimited license release (also called “repro rights”) to use the image(s) for anything you want without further payment or permission, forever. Clear this BEFORE hiring the photographer or commissioning the painting. Photos and artwork are covered by the same copyright laws that protect musical works. This means that the photographer or artist retains the copyrights to his or her work – that includes the film, digital files and the right to say how those images will be reproduced – unless you work out a different arrangement. So, before using an image, be sure to get a very clear license that details what the image can (and cannot) be used for and for how long.
Ideally, you want to purchase all rights forever.